Concurrent Disorders: A Case in Point for Improved Interdisciplinary Care Between Addictions and Mental Health Systems in Canada

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David Bobrowski


concurrent disorders, interdisciplinary care, mental health, substance use


The high prevalence of dual disorders, their chronic and recurrent character, defined by repeated episodes over a protracted duration, and an exacerbation of this cycle of disease by individuals who refused or faced barriers to seek treatment, describes a social problem of importance.1,3 The stigma associated with mental illness and substance use has been well documented, and terminology ranging from dipsomania to narcomania has been long recognized. There is no question that those who suffer from mental health and substance use disorders recognize this stigma, and that their illness inevitably leads to self-deprecation, repeated and chronic self-harm experiences, the fear of being judged by authority figures, and the danger of suicide.1,4 In addition, due to insufficient community based services for this patient population, individuals with concurrent disorders often end up in acute care facilities, at great expense to the healthcare system.1,2,4,31 Despite the burden of concurrent substance use and mental illness, there is a lack of knowledge and training around how to best identify and treat this pathology.1,2,4 These gaps in our knowledge base need to be addressed, and it is therefore mandatory from both a humane and medicinal perspective that additional research be conducted to identify an approach that will engage the largest number of individuals affected by both psychiatric and addictive disorders in a therapeutic manner. These realities highlight the need for more investment, but also for the intelligent rationing of resources.